Sunday, August 21, 2011

Vernacular from Pooh

A side-effect of my newfound addiction for Netflix, recently I re-watched the original Pooh cartoons from the 1970s, and in doing so came to realize how much of my present-day vernacular stems from those cartoons of my youth.

Some phrases I've acquired for use in my (or my family's) everyday vocabulary:

Honey Tree:
"Tut tut it looks like rain" - Christopher Robin
"Noooo" - Rabbit (it's a very pronounced way of saying the word)
"It isn’t meant to be" - Rabbit
"I did mean a little larger small helping" - Pooh
"Days, weeks, months, who knows" - Eeyore

Blustery Day:
"Windsday" - Gopher, Pooh, et al
["Pooh, did you do that?"] "I don't think so." - Owl, Pooh

And Tigger Too
"I am shushed" - Pooh
"I couldn't hear them before because Rabbit would talk" - Pooh

Day for Eeyore
Useful pot - various characters

If you ever hear me quoting these lines conversationally, now you know from whence they came.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Winnie the Pooh Sermon

My sermon about Winnie the Pooh, part of Jacob's Well's Godflix series, August 14, 2011.

(read more about it in my blog post earlier this week:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Winnie the Pooh

This past Sunday I gave my first ever sermon at Jacob's Well. (for the purposes of this conversation we'll say chapel talks in school don't count) And my sermon was about... drumroll... Winnie the Pooh!

It was part of JW's series called "Godflix", in which we pick 4 summer movie releases and talk about where God shows up, even if they aren't "religious" movies. This year the movies are Captain America, Winnie the Pooh, The Help, and Harry Potter 7 Part 2. After last year's series I asked the pastors if I could help this year, and kept pesterin– er, *reminding* them throughout the year... Originally Greg asked if I'd preach on Harry Potter, and I said I could, but I'd much rather talk about Winnie the Pooh, since there's this new Pooh movie coming out. He was skeptical, but I convinced him to let me have a go at it, and I think it turned out well.

My normal process for writing a chapel talk (aka sermon, I guess) is procrastinate until two days before, write a rough draft, realize it's way too short and panic because I don't think I have anything good to say, then rewrite the day before, throw together the slideshow the night before, and then everything turns out wonderfully, get lots of compliments, etc. Now in all fairness I'm not pulling everything out of a hat two days before, I've always been thinking and pondering for weeks or months and have a fair number of voice notes already recorded, but still, it feels like waiting until the last minute.

Couldn't do that this time. Katy, who puts together the Sunday Papers (like church bulletins, but less "churchy"), emailed me on Tuesday saying she needed my outline and a couple other things by Wednesday afternoon so she could print the papers. Thus my schedule got accelerated - wrote draft 1 Tuesday night, panicked, met with Greg Wednesday morning (met with Justin and Dawn, two other JW staff people, earlier, and ran my outline by them, too), he offered a couple ideas but reassured me I was on a good track. Did a few more revisions then by Wednesday night had it pretty much done, sent the outline to Katy, and relaxed.

Did I also mention, Tuesday night before starting to write I went to the Disney Store and bought a stuffed Pooh bear :) He reminded me to relax and not stress out.

Thursday morning the JW staff meets to talk through the service plan for Sunday, and, if applicable, rehearse the sermon. I was invited and took off work so I could be there, and got to rehearse giving my sermon. Everyone was impressed that I had come with a finished product, because apparently even though it's supposed to be a rehearsal time, almost always they're still brainstorming ideas and haven't written their sermons yet :) Did a couple small revisions, but no major changes.

We also agreed to have bears of honey at each of the communion tables. Cute.

Saturday I finally had time to Google image search some Pooh pictures and send those to Peter, who was assembling my slideshow (since I don't have MediaShout, the presentation software we use). Greg and I had found a couple movies to include, too. I got my sermon prepped on my iPad and ready to go!

Sunday morning by accident I found a different video clip I wanted to use, quick downloaded and threw on a flash drive, and, very ashamed and embarrassed, asked Peter if we could include it. I know how frustrating it is to have people bringing stuff at the last minute, so I felt very badly, but he wasn't angry at all. Whew!

And then it was time to get up and speak! Speaking in front of crowds doesn't bother me, but having Mom in the audience is intimidating :) My friend Matthew was also able to make it, that meant a lot to me.

Everything went well. Which is interesting, because I never had my "everything goes terribly" dream. Whenever I have that dream, that's how I know things'll be okay. Plush Pooh sat up front during worship and my sermon. Sermon went well, didn't stumble too much, and a lot of people complimented me. I'm learning how to take compliments. It's hard for me. One friend in particular came up and something I said must have touched him really deeply, his eyes slightly watery, and thanked me for giving that message. So I know at least one person heard something valuable. Or another way of phrasing that, I know God was able to use me to reach at least one person in the crowd. Maybe [hopefully] more, but at least one.

There is a video recording and I'm trying to get my hands on it. Will post that soon, hopefully.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Wiz

Long overdue. Back in May I tech-directed for Hope Academy's production of The Wiz. My former debate coach and teacher from 10th grade now works there as an administrator-type-person and approached me asking if I could help out. The timing was perfectly ironic. Here I was, just finishing AWAKEN tour season, praying, "God, please give me another ministry to pour my heart into", and then Dan emails me. Hope Academy is a private Christian school for poor/underprivileged kids in Minneapolis. He told me up front the job wouldn't pay much, and I knew I was really too busy to add "one more thing" into my schedule, but I also knew this was an answer to my prayer (careful what you ask for).

The Wiz was Hope's first ever musical production, so Dan said the bar was set really low for me :) They rented some basic lights and speakers, I set up all that on my own. Kind of therapeutic, actually, just working alone. For the rehearsals and actual performances I had two Hope student helpers, one for lights and one for spotlight, and then there were also two MA students (who used to attend Hope) who helped out. I ran sound myself, but tried to teach along the way. One of the students was very very excited to learn anything and everything about the sound board, very cool to have someone so excited about learning.

I had no idea what to expect coming in, so I consciously told myself up front I'd be as flexible as I possibly could be. Fortunately I'd worked with all the equipment before in some shape or form, and I got permission to borrow a few light gels from MA. Hardest part was figuring out who was who. I'd not had a chance to read the script, so the first rehearsal was a bit rocky, me not knowing who was coming onstage when, and even when they were on stage, who was who. The students were really soft, too, I'm sure they assumed having mics meant "I don't need to project". False. Constant battle. By the real performances they were doing better.

Director was super friendly and had such a passion for making this production as good as it could be. We talked for a while the first day I was there (only three or four days before the first show!), agreed to add extra rehearsal time for the kids, and she was always ready to answer questions I had about lighting/sound choices. Great teamwork.

The students did a phenomenal job. I mean, they're not professional actors, but given this was the first musical, given the nature of the school, given we were doing this in a gymnasium, given they've never used wireless headsets before, given all these things, they did phenomenal. The girl who played The Wiz character was exceptionally good for a high school production, as were a few other supporting roles. I'm actually proud of them, all of them, because they pulled it off. Wednesday rehearsal if you'd asked me I would have said "this will be a disaster". But by Friday performance, they got there, they did it.

Rewarding experience for me. I'm still way too busy, but it was worthwhile, every minute of it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


I'm stressed. Too much going on at work and personally. I have to do all the things.


I get to do this.

I'm taking a deep breath. And remember that while I breath freely two of my friends are on life support, machines are breathing for them until they're strong enough to breath on their own again.

Breathe. Just breathe. Don't take it for granted.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

What do you do when there's nothing you can do?

I'm not in control. I hate this feeling. My friend's husband is in ICU on life support. He's making progress, they're saying he'll make a full recovery, but as recently as two days ago they thought he would die.

I'm a fixer, I like fixing things, making it better, but what do you do when there's nothing you can do, because you're 2000 miles away?

I've found two answers:

1) Keep praying.
2) Keep the world flat. When my friend sends a text with updates, I've posted those on her FB wall and tagged her husband, so all their friends can read the news. It's not much, but it's what I can do.

This morning during church I found out another friend is sick and was just airlifted to Mayo ICU. I don't know her story, not sure what's going on.

I updated my FB status: "No one else is allowed to get sick!"